12 Dec 2018

Te Mata Peak should get legal status as person - iwi

4:42 pm on 12 December 2018

Te Mata Peak should be given the legal status of a person, a Hawke's Bay iwi says.

The controversial walking track up the Eastern side of Te Mata Peak.

The controversial walking track up the Eastern side of Te Mata Peak. Photo: RNZ / Anusha Bradley

It is one of several recommendations made to Hastings District Council in a cultural report by iwi organisation Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.

It was commissioned by the council following the outcry after Craggy Range winery cut a controversial walking track up the eastern slope of the peak last year.

Local iwi were outraged when the track was built without them being told, and an independent review later found the council should have publicly notified the resource consent.

Iwi have considered Te Mata Peak to be a sacred mount for 1000 years and there were a number of old Pā sites in and around the mountain, the report released by Hastings District Council said.

The report said the peak should be given full recognition as a legal equivalent to a legal person, similar to Whanganui River which was given the rights of a legal person last year.

Given the half a million visitors to Te Mata Peak each year the report also recommended some places be set aside for cultural practices and the right for local iwi to have a sit on any governing boards that played a part in the management of the peak.

The public would be barred from eight sacred sites on the mountain, while another 17 sacred sites should be fenced off from stock, the report recommended.

"We seek to show that justification now exists for the use of every available planning, policy and community contribution to assist local Māori communities to reclaim, reframe and re-instate the mana and mauri of whānau Māori," the report said.

It also wanted the track cut by Craggy Range in December last year to be removed, though last week the council agreed to pay the full $650,000 cost of remediation.

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